Detectives in St Helens are hunting a man who assaulted a woman in the town centre and stole her handbag.
The terrifying incident took place as the woman made her way home from a night out and was walking along the footpath near the Steve Prescott Bridge.
She was approached by a man who started talking to her before ripping a small red plastic handbag off her shoulder, snapping the strap in the process.
The woman fought back but the man assaulted her, causing brusing to her eyes.
The attack happened at around 3.15am on Sunday, March 15.
The offender ran off towards Matalan.
Officers believe he then ran through Parr Street car park and along the canal path before he appeared to get into a light coloured car on Standish Street, near to the traffic lights at the junction with Waterside.
The car headed towards Pocket Nook Street and officers believe it may have been a private hire taxi.
A report about the incident was made to the police later that morning and officers quickly launched an investigation in a bid to trace the person responsible.
CCTV from the area has been reviewed and inquiries into the full circumstances of what happened are continuing.
The offender is described as white, in his 40s, around 5ft 9in tall and of a slim build. He had two or three days stubble which was dark in colour and is thought to have been wearing a dark blue waterproof windbreaker.
DC Roy Waller of St Helens CID said: “This must have been very frightening for the victim, but despite this she bravely managed to chase her attacker and last saw him heading towards Parr Street car park.
“We believe the car he got into may have been a private hire taxi and it is now crucial that we speak to the driver of that car as he or she will have vital information which could prove invaluable in tracing the person responsible for this incident.
“If you were that driver and you remember picking someone up on Standish Street, St Helens, at just after 3.15am on Sunday, 15 March, I would appeal to you to get in touch with us.
“The offender is likely to have been out of breath and may also have still been carrying the small red plastic handbag he is thought to have stolen from the victim. He will clearly have stood out and if you remember him, please call us.”
Witnesses should call St Helens CID on 0151 777 6842.